The Internet Creeper

We first discovered courage in the written word back in elementary school. In lieu of risking public humiliation, many boys (and some of the more progressive girls) sought refuge in the confidential “I like you. Do you like me?” note.  At a young age, these boys balanced the need for self-preservation with the necessity of full-disclosure. As adults, guys have maintained the safety of “the note” while abandoning its emotional significance. Today, “the note” has become the Internet.

Some Internet Creepers no doubt make their way through endless chat rooms, searching for the ultimate intimacy substitute: cyber-sex. My experiences with Internet Creepers, however, arose not in chat rooms, but in the oh-so-safe atmosphere of MySpace. Before I understood the full-spectrum of MySpace’s many social appeals (and the need to set a profile to private), I was often “friended” by guys I didn’t know. Finding this an incredible stroke to my ego, I usually accepted (isn’t our self-worth directly proportionate to the number of friends we have on the internet?). In time, I began receiving odd, but innocuous, messages: “Hey. What’s up?” “Thanks for adding me. Cute smile.” In time, unanswered messages grew more forward: “Hey. Want to get together sometime?” “We should hook up.” Understandably, these guys became outraged at my lack of response: “Hey. Why didn’t you answer my message?” and eventually de-friended me (the ultimate in Internet rejection).

My most memorable message came from a guy whose screen name was “Bitches ain’t shit.” The entirety of the message read “mmmm….. delicious.”  I figured out pretty quickly how to set my profile to private.

I have yet to determine what about my profile suggested I’d be interested in a blind hook-up. Perhaps it was the profile picture of me and my Chihuahua. Maybe my bad taste in music exposed so publicly pegged me as a woman desperate. Regardless, I’m baffled by the audacity of the more extreme Internet Creepers. And until my profile advertises “Looking for One-Night Stands,” guys would be well-advised to avoid making assumptions about my promiscuity.


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The Feeler

“The Feeler” is probably the most prevalent and obnoxious guy that I’ve encountered. Harmless at one end of the spectrum, unbearably creepy on the other (with criminal implications being another category altogether), this guy either doesn’t recognize or disregards the unwelcomeness of his touch.

Upon first meeting a guy, most girls prefer conversation to premature caresses. I’m reasonably confident that these touches are innocent in intent, but they often feel presumptive in execution. If a guy is forceful enough to initiate physical intimacy at this early stage, the girl expects he will pressure her for more early on. Hearing me rant about this apparently much-trumped method, my respectable male friends were aghast: “I’ve always heard it’s a great move to put your hand on her lower back!” This, to me, seems the least intrusive of actions and is both acceptable and appropriate when walking together or when talking in a loud, crowded room. Let me clarify: not all physical contact is bad. A touch on the arm during conversation is flirting. A hand on the butt? Not so much.  The Feeler infringes on those boundaries, establishing his interest as purely physical.

On the lower end of the spectrum (and probably the most common of this type), is the guy who goes just a little beyond the lower back. He strolls up beside the girl, presses his hand against her back, and ever-so smoothly slides it around her waist so he’s caressing her side. This subtle (in his mind) move creates two uncomfortable realities:

1.  She’s ensnared, forcibly pressed against his side and robbed of personal space. Even worse, the arm trapped near his body has no where to go! She must either place it around him or hold it conspicuously in the air behind him.

2.  His face is uncomfortably close to hers, triggering insecurities about skin imperfections—not to mention the paralyzing fear that he may try to kiss her.

All of these realizations force the poor girl into a no-win predicament. Does she accept this unwanted embrace? Or not-so-casually break her way out of it? If the girl chooses to endure the unwelcome grip (likely to avoid causing an even more awkward and embarrassing moment), the guy is encouraged, thinking she is actually into him, creating even more opportunities for touching and discomfort. If she breaks the embrace, however, both parties are embarrassed, with the guy often becoming defensive: “What? You think you’re too good for me?” It’s not that she thinks she’s too good for him. She doesn’t yet know if she is. At this point, she’s probably learned little beyond his first name and beer preference–she has no clue if she wants to be touched or not.

The awkwardness of this moment, though, is a faint twitch of discomfort when compared to an unnerving encounter with a Feeler extremist. This is the guy whose techniques are much more advanced and displays little or no concern for his target’s discomfort, despite her avoidance, or even out-right rejection of his advances.

I’ve often encountered the more common, less aggressive Feeler, but until recently had little experience with the lesser-known breed. It was a blind, double date. Due to miscommunication (or maybe just my own misunderstanding), I actually didn’t realize it was a double-date until the three picked me up; I was convinced instead that it was a group outing. Regardless, the evening was progressing quite nicely–first bowling, then a local bar with karaoke. As my date started to drink, he began taking liberties with more than libations. The more alcohol he drank, the more liberties he took. And although his touches were never exactly inappropriate, they were unwelcome all the same. They began during our duet of “Like a Prayer.” He started with the previously-described arm-around-the waist-move, then moved on to more advanced moves like pulling my arm across the table so I’d lean in for him to tell me something. Unfortunately, he never had anything to say and would just stare while holding my arm or hand. While these advances were discomfiting, they were harmless enough and I endured them.

But he had a hair fetish. At first unperturbed by this admission, I was amused, never expecting what came next. Ready for a night of bowling, I’d worn my hair in an impressively cute, yet practical ponytail. Apparently for someone with a hair fetish, ponytails create an irresistible challenge. My date became obsessed with freeing my hair, first trying to convince me to let it down, then trying to pull it out himself. It became a battle for my hair. Recognizing initial defeat, he pursued a new strategy—what, to him, must have seemed a compromise. With each turn of my head, he reached out and tucked stray hairs behind my ear. Despite my instinctive flinches and swatting of his hand (not to mention our mutual friend’s commands to stop), he persisted.

Needless to say, the evening did not end well. And while this guy represents my most extreme encounter with a Feeler, he probably falls somewhere in the middle. At their best, Feelers are merely annoyances; at their worst, they instill a distress in girls rivaled only by the onset of swimsuit season.

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Welcome to my single life

It’s tough being single. I know it’s a cliche, but cliches exist for a reason, right? As a single girl, I know the pressures first-hand. The first question anyone ever asks is “So, are you married? Seeing anyone?” Inevitably, these questions are followed by the compassionate, “Don’t worry; you’ll find someone.” Girls feel this pressure, and everyone acknowledges that it’s there–it’s no big secret. A single girl in the world is acknowledged as a woman stressed.

With all of this pressure, it doesn’t seem unreasonable that I should be excited when a guy comes over to hit on me. As an ostracized, pressured, stressed-out, single woman, I should be grateful that a guy finds me appealing enough to present himself as a possible (if temporary) solution to my problem. This guy in this bar could be my salvation from the eternal damnation that is the single life! I acknowledge that moment of hope, even revel in it. I’m not proud of it, but I admit that I don’t actually enjoy being the single girl masquerading as “independent by choice,” and the possibility of changing that Facebook status from “Single” to “In a Relationship” is all-too enticing.

This hope, however, is quickly dashed as the guy starts “making his move.” I can’t pretend to know how difficult it is for a guy to hit on a girl, but I assume it’s no easy task. The fear of rejection, the pressure to be unique and impressive, the quest to appear sensitive while maintaining a manly persona–they all seem to culminate in one result: a disastrous meeting.

These come-ons leave us, the girls, confused and dismayed. Collapsing under the pressure to be creative and original, guys are presenting themselves instead as “creepers”–intruding on our personal space, inserting themselves into our conversations, making us uncomfortable to the point we all but scream, “Dude, it’s not gonna happen!!”

I have experienced this moment many times. From these intensely awkward, and often painful, experiences, I have come to a realization: while guys might add a bit of their own personalities to these pick-up methods, they are not original. Instead, they are just more aggressive, more intrusive, more everything than the old methods. And in trying so hard, guys are losing their sincerity.

I plan to share my awkward stories, categorizing the different types of come-ons (and the guys who use them) in such a way as to show how unoriginal and repulsive some of these methods actually are. Most girls will likely relate, and hopefully share stories of their own. Perhaps some guys will read this, recognize the futility of these methods, and return to the sometimes mocked, but far less obtrusive gesture of just offering to buy us a drink.

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